Covid: More cases of Omicron variant identified in Wales

Two more cases of the coronavirus Omicron variant have been identified in Wales as health experts warn tougher restrictions will be needed to stop a "substantial" wave of infection.

A total of 15 cases have been identified in Wales so far with experts warning of a large increase in the coming weeks.

Dr Eleri Davies interim Medical Director for Public Health Wales said: “Public Health Wales is today (Saturday 11 December 2021) confirming two new cases of Omicron variant, one in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area, and one in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board area.  

"This brings us to a total of 15 cases in Wales, of which three are linked to international travel. One incorrect travel history was identified, hence the decline of one case linked to travel.

“As we have said previously, an increase in cases of Omicron variant in Wales is to be expected.” 

Experts have warned the Omicron variant could become the dominant strain in the UK by mid-December.

Analysis of Omicron by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also found two doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines provided "much lower" levels of protection against Omicron when compared with the Delta variant.

But the UKHSA said preliminary data showed vaccine effectiveness "considerably increased" in the early period after a booster dose, providing around 70% to 75% protection against symptomatic infection.

Health officials are therefore urging all those eligible to make sure they get their third jab.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has urged people to cancel their Christmas parties and the Welsh Government is set to review Covid restrictions on a weekly basis in the lead up to the new year.